Pairing:Andrew Paxton/Margaret Tate

Warnings/Spoilers: No warnings. Set post movie

Genres:Established relationship

Disclaimer: The Proposal belongs to Touchstone Pictures. This is a not for profit fanfiction, and no copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Notes: Thanks to Aithine for beta reading duties. Any mistakes remaining are my own. Written for my kissbingo card square 'location: wedding'.

-o-

Their second wedding goes much better than their first, and not just because Andrew has strategically placed his family and friends in front of every available exit, just in case she decides to give another big 'I'm going to ruin your life' speech and break for the door.

They really need to have a conversation about the importance of trust in a relationship. Apart from anything else, it's not as though Andrew's manoeuvring would do any good if Margaret did decide to risk throwing her life away again. Margaret may be wearing higher heels this time around, but she's still pretty sure that she could out run Gammy in them. Maybe even Joe. Grace, she's not so sure about, mainly because she suspects that Andrew's mother could move like a speed demon if she was sufficiently motivated, and watching her darling boy get jilted again would probably count as motivation.

If Margaret really wanted to escape, it would be the side door she'd aim for (which is only coincidentally the furthest exit away from Grace). She could take Jordan, no trouble. The man pretty much crumbles if she so much as looks at him funny, and it's not as though she's been planning her escape routes or anything.

Andrew has never really crumbled. He's caved a time or two (or three hundred and twenty seven, not that she's been counting), but that's actually a requirement in any good minion. And even with the caving, and the occasional trembling in his shoes, he's always come back for more, even finding the courage (or audacity - jury's still out on that one) to bring up his own ideas and opinions in the face of Margaret's obvious scorn.

He still does. He's just a lot less diffident about it these days. In fact, Margaret might even go so far as to characterise it as pushy.

"You do realise that if you run, I'll just track you down, right?"

Andrew pulls back from whispering in her ear and gives the chaplain - a proper one this time, not Ramone, because Andrew has this completely ludicrous idea that she could wrap Ramone around her little finger and get him to do whatever she wanted. Like helping her escape, for example.

"That sounds vaguely like a threat," she whispers back, speaking out of the side of her mouth like the pair of them are in a gangster movie or something. She gives the chaplain a twitchy little smile; he looks back at her warily. Someone's obviously tipped him off, and Margaret will have to have words.

"No, Margaret, that's a promise. Now smile sweetly, sweetheart. The back row is populated entirely by the local press."

She can't resist looking over her shoulder at the three people clustered at the rear of the barn. A flash goes off and she blinks her eyes, her vision clearing just in time to spot Joe heading towards the miscreant with a face like thunder.

"Huh," she says, turning to face forward again. "They actually think I'm going to..."

"Jilt me at the altar again?" asks Andrew brightly, and he doesn't bother to keep his voice down this time. He says it almost conversationally, ignoring the filthy look Margaret sends in his direction and smiling pleasantly at the chaplain instead. Andrew's smile isn't returned; frankly, the chaplain looks like he's planning his own escape. "Someone's running an office pool on it."

Margaret considers this for a moment. "What are the odds?"

"Not enough to make it worthwhile."

Gilbertson is in the second row, as an invited guest this time, but still... It's a sharp little reminder of just how many different ways she could still screw this up. She doesn't need Andrew to point it out.

Her palms are clammy, and she shifts her bouquet - all of the flowers so carefully selected by Grace and Gammy - in her hands, clearing her throat. There are a lot of eyes on her, and on Andrew. She can feel the weight of them on her back, and she's pretty sure that not all of them are hoping for a happy ending.

"Remind me again why we didn't get married in New York?"

"Too many escape routes and too many taxis for a quick getaway."

When Margaret turns her head to say something cutting and brilliant in response, Andrew is looking at her, just looking at her, and - in spite of his words - the expression on his face is an understanding one.

She turns back to face forward, swallowing heavily. Hard as this is for her, it's got to be a lot harder for him. He grew up in this town - his family owns half of it, for God's sake - and, no matter how good her intentions were at the time, she left him standing at the altar. Of course, if he'd actually bothered to let her know that doing so would break his heart, she might have reconsidered doing it. Possibly. So really, he has to bear some responsibility for the whole debacle.

Her palms are still clammy and she switches her death grip on her bouquet to a single hand so that she can surreptitiously wipe the other one on her dress.

Andrew leans in again, lowering his voice. "Breathe, pumpkin," he says, and he catches hold of her free hand before she can pull it back to safety. His palm isn't clammy at all, the jackass.

His fingers tighten around hers, squeezing gently, and that helps, but not as much as the look on his face. His eyes are soft and gentle, and Margaret's heart gives a little pitter-pat.

"Okay?" he murmurs, and she nods, jerky and nervous, caught by the shape of his mouth and the memory of his kisses. She is Margaret Tate, terror and titan of the publishing world, and she refuses to be intimidated by a podunk little town in the middle of nowhere, no matter what the reason.

Andrew smiles, a dimple forming in his cheek, and reaches up to cup her face. She has just enough time to realise, a little resentfully, that the palm of that hand isn't clammy or nervous either, before his mouth settles over hers, warm and certain.

He takes his sweet time kissing her as well; by the time he's finished, Margaret doesn't care about the wedding or the audience or how many are only there to watch their golden boy, and the witch he's marrying, crash and burn. All she cares about is the feel of Andrew's fingers, firm and gentle on her face, and the press of his mouth against hers.

How she doesn't drop her bouquet, she'll never know.

"I think you're supposed to kiss her after the marriage vows, Andrew," Gertrude says, and Margaret jerks back into herself, stepping away from Andrew with a nervous little twitch. She doesn't miss the laughter that ripples through the crowd behind her, but it doesn't sound like it's mean laughter, not this time; when she meets her maid of honour's eyes, there's no bitterness or regret in Gertrude's expression. Just a quiet sympathy and a happiness that is there simply because Andrew - and Margaret by extension - is happy.

Margaret doesn't deserve this. She really doesn't. But...

"You're over-thinking it," says Andrew quietly, eyes front and fixed firmly on the chaplain, who is giving them both a jaundiced look. "Stop it or I'll be forced to kiss you again."

Margaret snorts, indelicate and unladylike. "Like that's supposed to be an incentive."

Gertrude's giggle bubbles up next to her. "You have the rest of your lives for that, guys." And, yes they do.

The chaplain clears his throat pointedly, giving them a vaguely disapproving look, and Margaret sobers up. It helps when Andrew catches hold of her hand again, his fingers tangling with hers. It helps even more when the low-level buzz of conversation dies down behind them, silenced by the chaplain's stern look, one that's now switched from the errant bride and groom to take in the whole congregation instead.

"Dearly beloved," he begins, and so does the rest of Margaret's life.

The end